GROTTA POLESINI

Tivoli (RM) - Lazio

Grotta Polesini near Ponte Lucano, investigated by Antonio M. Radmilli (Pisa University) between 1951 and 1955, is one of the most representative Italian iconographic complexes from the end of the Paleolithic.
The stratigraphic sequence, investigated with 12 cuts, was marked according to the fauna in four stages within a time segment of over two thousand years. A radiometric dating relative to cut 7 (Phase III), amounting to 10,090 ± BP not cal., is not considered reliable. The artistic findings come from the F layer (depth of 2.50 m), while the stratigraphic details are not indicated by Radmilli.

Grotta Polesini returned many items, especially in bone, with incisions at different levels of processing and of graphic efforts: notches, short lines, zigzag, indecipherable linear paterns, curvilinear, geometric, perhaps naturalistic, markings more or less organized, barbed lines. The meandering concentric pattern is among the more elaborate, and the pattern of parallel bands filled with regular parallel lines is compelling, while the same can be said of the parallel open rectangles grapheme.

Presented here is a series of etchings that illustrate the wide repertoire, common to other final Epigravettian complexes.
The figurative complex documents a continuity in Central Italy of the Franco-Iberian tradition, probably associated to the “Mediterranean” graphic canon. It is both naturalistic and geometric, predominantly the latter.
The cobblestones with spots of ochre pigment, fall within the form of the Azilian style.

Historical framework
Upper Paleolithic

Coinciding with the arrival of the species Homo sapiens in Europe was the most recent phase of the Paleolithic (between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago). Here, we see a break with the previous cultural traditions of the Neanderthals, and the beginning of a series of utilitarian and symbolic practices which developed in the millennia leading up to the arrival of the Neolithic. The presence of strategically located settlements, subsistence practices based on hunting and gathering, the modality of funerary rites and the beginning of the figurative art allow us to follow the transformation of the earliest sapiens cultures.

Cultures

Final Epigravettian

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